Twitter launched its ‘Promoted Tweets’ advertising system earlier this month, in a long-expected move by the staggeringly popular micro-blogging platform to attempt to monetise the global reach of its information exchange service.
The system is similar to Google AdWords: keywords receive bids from advertisers, and if successful, the advertiser’s ad is triggered as a ‘Sponsored Tweet’ when that keyword is typed into Twitter’s search field. How often the ad appears is figured on its relevancy and popularity, a performance metric reminiscent of Google’s Quality Score.
If the advertising model does do well, then lucrative deals with the likes of Google, Microsoft and Starbucks are surely not far off.
How will this affect the lives of Twitter users? Hopefully not much, beyond inflicting a mild sense of irritation upon someone seeing a largely irrelevant ad within their usual stream of largely irrelevant tweets.
So many people tweet as a means of unpaid, unofficial advertising anyway that it’s entirely possible that the most prolific Twitter users will be the least impacted by the switch.
Appropriately, Twitter is handling the change with a delicacy intended to avoid alienating its user base. Netizens don’t take to change well, especially the kind that’s glaring (Facebook layout changes) or obviously aimed toward diminishing their experience for the sake of corporate profit (pop up ads).
Twitter’s transparency in announcing its intent to introduce search, and the relative subtlety of its text-based ad format – 160 characters max, just like a regular tweet – may just make this one a success.